Quit 16 – The toll of smoking related cancers is revealed in the North East for the launch of new hard hitting quit campaign

February 1, 2016
  • Former smokers tell how cancer can change lives and families forever
  • Low awareness of many smoking related cancers

Today sees the launch of our latest campaign with Fresh Smokefree North East warning that smoking causes 16 different types of cancer. It comes as new figures reveal how cancers from smoking affect thousands of North East families every year.

Fresh’s Quit 16 campaign is supported by Cancer Research UK and features real former smokers warning how cancer can change lives and families forever.

Smoking caused an estimated 3,077 new cases of cancer and 2,192 deaths from cancer in the North East in 2013. Besides lung cancer, smoking also causes cancers of the mouth, nasal cavities, pharynx and larynx, stomach, kidney, bowel, liver, pancreas, cervix, bladder and ovaries, oesophagus and ureter, as well as myeloid leukaemia.

Worryingly, a survey of North East smokers found over 1/3 (34%) could not name one cancer caused by smoking without prompting. The campaign is set to address this and features heavily on TV, radio, print and digital channels for 5 weeks.

Former smokers are warning of the consequences of not quitting, including Dave McKenna, from Saltburn, who lost his hearing after mouth cancer treatment, Maggie Bratton, from Northumberland, who needed surgery and a plastic replacement for the roof of her mouth which she now cannot speak without, Tony Osborne, from Middlesbrough, who now speaks using a valve in his neck after throat cancer, and Lauren Joyce, from Stockton, whose dad begged his family to quit smoking before he died of bowel cancer. Their stories can be viewed and read at the campaign microsite quit16.co.uk


Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, said: “Most of us know about lung cancer, but it’s worrying how few people are aware that poisons in smoke attack so many different parts of the body, whether they smoke cigarettes or roll ups.

“We are urging anyone who smokes to think how their family would cope if it was them and make 2016 their year to make a new start. Quitting might not always be easy, but continuing to smoke is often much, much harder.”

The 16 Cancers campaign was first developed and run in Australia in 2014 by the Cancer Council Western Australia, with 74% of smokers who saw it seriously considering quitting and 20% discussing quitting with a health professional as a result. Working with Fresh we have adapted the campaign for our North East audiences and in association with Breathe 2025, the campaign is also running across the Yorkshire and Humber regions.

The North East had the largest drop in smokers nationwide between 2013-14 and the biggest fall over the past decade. The Integrated Household Survey from the ONS shows rates in the North East fell from 22.3% of people smoking in 2013 down to 19.9% in 2014 – the biggest drop nationally. There are now 165,000 fewer smokers in the North East than in 2005, when 29% of people smoked and the Fresh programme was launched to tackle the worst smoking rates in England.

We’re hoping this impactful campaign will continue the great work that Fresh is undertaking in the North East and that many North East and Yorkshire smokers make 2016 a positive quitting year.